Bathroom water damage is something you should always be on guard against. Tile, wood and other materials do an excellent job of keeping water from reaching the under floor but it is a fact of life that water will find any opening that exists and flow anywhere that it can.
Water will find any opening whether it is gaps in grout, cracks in tile, splits in wood or vinyl tears. When that happens, several bad things happen gradually in parallel.
Bathroom Water Damage and Mold
Water that seeps into a cracked tile or grouting will become trapped. There it provides a breeding ground for small organisms that were either already present in the water or are airborne. Mold and mildew starts to build up and spread. Spiders, which are common visitors often found in bathrooms, seek these small droplets out as a source of water. That is why you so often find them in the bathtub.
At the same time, any wooden under floor begins to rot, causing the fibers to become softened which in turn weakens the floor support. Organisms that chew wood are encouraged to make of it an even easier meal. Within a few months, the under floor becomes unable to do its job. The added pressure on tile causes cracks to appear. Wood will bow and vinyl will develop small valleys.
Remodeling and Bathroom Water Damage
The way to prevent bathroom water damage problems is to carefully seal any new installation, and then perform maintenance as required.
When laying tile, ensure that those around the perimeter are cut precisely. Some gap is necessary because even very precisely cut tile has to be sealed with grout. Nevertheless, make it small since the majority of tile will expand very little with temperature. One eighth of an inch is plenty in the majority of cases.
Next, grout carefully. A quarter inch bead is ample, but it has to be applied evenly. Take care to press out any bubbles that form. Try to force some of the grout well down into the gaps between tiles and between tiles and the wall. That will provide a better seal and increase the tile’s ability to support high pressure.
Hardwood bathroom floors are seeing a revival. They, too, have to be well sealed to prevent future bathroom water damage from occurring.
Laying planks side by side helps although no piece of wood is perfectly straight along an edge even if it starts life that way. Temperature and humidity changes will cause some slight variation eventually. Manufacturers are aware of this and the tongue and groove system carved into the sides helps lock planks together, forming a tight seal.
That seal might require a little assistance from wood putty, glue or other sealant, depending on the quality of the planks you use. However, after the job is complete, there is still ongoing maintenance. Waxes can make a bathroom floor slippery and homeowners might be reluctant to use them in the bath. Nevertheless, remember that surfers ride waxed boards and there are waxes that can seal while also providing additional friction for safety.
Whatever the material you use for your bathroom floor, it is essential to seal it and keep it sealed. Stone, laminates and every other kind of flooring are only cut so well and can never seal perfectly. It needs to be supplemented with grout and other compounds.
The alternative is bathroom water damage that will result in a major repair job sometime in the near future.